Going LED to Save Money on Lighting
Comparing LED, light-emitting diode lighting to incandescent lighting is a bright spot in budgeting for the home. There is another choice, CFL, compact fluorescent lighting, but it’s getting eliminated right away. In three areas of comparison (efficiency, color rendering, and lifespan), the CFL is inferior in comparison to LED. As many homes still have incandescent bulbs, this article will compare those to LED lighting.
The size and design of American homes vary greatly, but several sources have estimated that the average household has around 45-50 light bulbs. Using 50 makes scaling up and down easier, so the comparison here will assume 50 bulbs/home. Money isn’t the only reason for switching from incandescent to LED lighting, as there are environmental considerations as well.
Environmental Considerations for LED vs Incandescent
The lower energy consumption of manufacture of and power generation for LED lighting reduces CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide, and high-level nuclear waste. Using the 50 bulbs for comparison, over the course of a year, the manufacture of and the power generation to light incandescent bulbs would emit 7,500 pounds of CO2, sulfur oxide, and nuclear waste. LED lighting manufacture and power consumption would reduce these emissions to 752 pounds.
Energy Efficiency & Operational Costs for LED vs Incandescent
Lighting uses power measured in watts to generate light measured in lumens. An output of 800 lumens from an incandescent bulb consuming 60 watts is produced by an LED consuming only 6 to 8 watts. The 50 incandescent bulbs would use approximately 5,475 kilowatt hours (KWH) per year. At 10 cents/KWH, the cost for lighting would be approximately $547.50.
Swapping out all the incandescent bulbs for LEDs, the usage would be 548 KWH/year, and the cost would be approximately $54.80. Helping to improve the environment and saving almost $500 per year is real value, but there’s more.
Cost of the Bulbs
Currently, LED bulbs, depending upon style and other features, are selling for $2 to $3 each on average. Standard no-frills 60-watt incandescent bulbs can be found for around $0.60 each. However, the savings comes mostly from the life span of the bulbs. Incandescent bulbs last around 1,200 hours, while LEDs can last 25,000 hours or more on average.
Using these lifespans, you would use 21 incandescent bulbs for every one LED. Using $2.50 per LED, the 50 bulbs would cost $125, while an equivalent lifespan with incandescent bulbs would be 21 times the cost each of $0.60, or 21 X 50 = 1050 bulbs X $0.60 = $630. Assuming around 12 – 14 hours/day of lighting, you would be getting around 5 years of lighting out of the LED bulbs before replacement at the $125 cost. The incandescent bulbs used would cost $630 to replace, and the savings would be approximately $103/year.
Even if you ignore the environmental impact, the total savings from purchase costs and operation would be around $600/year. This doesn’t take into consideration the time and costs to go and buy those 1,000+ bulbs, grab a stool or step ladder and replace them over 1,000 times before you must replace the LEDs once. It seems to be a simple decision.